Blair U-turn on Livingstone
Monday 15 February 1999
The move to challenge the "Livingstone problem" head on comes as the former GLC leader holds a rally today calling for Tony Blair to allow his name to go forward in a one member, one vote ballot in the capital.
The comedian Jo Brand and the novelist Beryl Bainbridge will attend the meeting tonight at Westminster Central Hall that will mark the start of Mr Livingstone's campaign. In a populist move that echoed his leadership at County Hall more than a decade ago, he has placed adverts in the London Evening Standard calling on Londoners to back his right to stand.
If the campaign picks up momentum, it could prove too embarrassing for Mr Blair and Labour to scupper the MP's chances and could provoke more "control freak" headlines.
Ministerial sources have indicated there is a clear twin-track approach being devised that involves either blocking the MP through a vetting panel or taking him on with a "heavy hitter" in a straight fight.
The Blair camp's decision to keep open the option of Livingstone candidacy follows worries that plans to veto him could lead to unrest in the party.
Even backbench MPs who do not agree with the Brent East MP's views believe that he should be allowed to stand.
The strategy is fraught with danger for the party leadership as Mr Livingstone is believed to have significant grassroots support in London.However, party chiefs believe that the wider "armchair" membership in London, as opposed to the activists, will back a clear Blairite alternative.
The Secretary of State for Health, Frank Dobson, was seen as the best person capable of winning a mayoral primary, but he has said he has no intention of standing.
If no suitable candidate can be found within the next few months, the party is prepared to fall back on moves to block the former GLC leader through a vetting panel.
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
- 4 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 5 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...
£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...